The end of Virtual Worlds 1.0, now onto 2.0

Another Virtual World 1.0 is shutting down. This time Raph Koster’s Metaplace.com. This after vSide shut down earlier in the year and Google Lively last year. Playing off of Web2.0 I would group these and current worlds under virtual worlds 1.0. They’re similar to Infoseek, Excite, AOL, and Yahoo! – Web 1.0.

A few things defined Virtual Worlds 1.0:

  1. All about the technology – Classic problem of building a solution in search of a problem.
  2. Myth of self-expression – In search of a problem, many virtual worlds settled on self-expression as the problem they were trying to solve. Too bad no one was seriously hurting for tools to express themselves.
  3. Installs – Metaplace just used Flash but most had their own proprietary installs. No one like installs, especially the core audience most of these services were going after.
  4. Just 3D chat rooms – When self-expression fell flat and they found it difficult to compete with true casual games sites, these worlds were left with little more than 3D chat.

There are however Virtual Worlds 1.0 success stories. IMVU is incredibly succesful embracing it’s core functionality as just a 3D chat. Ameba has been a big hit in Japan by transitioning a community pre-built around blogs into a virtual world. And then there is always Second Life, probably the winner by default.

Virtual Worlds 2.0

As Web 2.0 rose out of the ashes of Web 1.0, virtual worlds will do the same.

Two things I believe will define Virtual Worlds 2.0:

  1. Built around 3D in the browserSay hello to O3D and WebGL.
  2. 3D is for entertainment – Unlike what many believe, 3D isn’t exactly good for communication. What 3D is good for is entertainment.

6 thoughts on “The end of Virtual Worlds 1.0, now onto 2.0

  1. I agree with your thoughts on Virtual Worlds 1.0, you hit it right on the head.

    As for Virtual Worlds 2.0,
    1. HTML5, WebGL, and X3D (http://www.X3DOM.org) are showing greater interest in adoption than O3D atm
    2. web3D is good for entertainment, isn't all that good for communication, but is growing in adoption for real world applications in industries that are not currently in the VW space.

    Nice post.

  2. I agree with your thoughts on Virtual Worlds 1.0, you hit it right on the head.

    As for Virtual Worlds 2.0,
    1. HTML5, WebGL, and X3D (http://www.X3DOM.org) are showing greater interest in adoption than O3D atm
    2. web3D is good for entertainment, isn't all that good for communication, but is growing in adoption for real world applications in industries that are not currently in the VW space.

    Nice post.

  3. Try, end of VWs version 3.0, on to 4.0, arguably 4.0 -> 5.0 if you include the MUDs of the 80s. Virtual worlds were already 2 decades old when Second Life came along. Please consider the following:
    - Doing research.

  4. And arguably Web 1.0 wasn't the first wave of the Web. Have to take a little liberty here. Sibley Verbeck did a great run down of the evolution of the industry at the 2008 Virtual Worlds conference. From MUDs to Lucasfilm's Habitat, to Second Life. I still hold that the widespread popularity of Second Life ushered in Virtual Worlds 1.0. It brought large scale media attention and investment – the same was true for Web 1.0 with AOL and Yahoo!

  5. The Virtual Worlds conference is a pay-for-play joke. Sibley is, however, pretty knowledgeable about the history of immersive virtual worlds. However, I'm still upset with Sibley for throwing Second Life under the bus at the Spring 2007 VW conference, claiming that SL's technology was stagnated, meanwhile everyone in the industry knew that eSheep had just overextended themselves.

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